Jordan Niles ’19, Psychology

Research Opportunities on Campus Like No Other.

Jordan Niles ’19 decided to pursue a psychology major because she’s interested in the brain and understanding “the reasons why people do what they do,” she says. 

It’s easy to understand why she chose Northern Vermont University-Johnson. “We have a well-established psychology program,” she says, “and for a small college, we have a lot of psychology electives, which was very intriguing for me.”

A Welcoming Community

Jordan, who transferred to NVU-Johnson a year ago from a larger, out-of-state university, wanted to find a college in Vermont, where she lives in Newport Center and commutes to NVU. “I was in constant contact with Johnson’s admissions office, and they were extremely helpful. I was excited to think that if that were what admissions were like, the entire staff would be that way — and they have been,” she says. “Everyone just wants to see you succeed, the faculty and staff.”

The welcoming environment is something Jordan likes most about NVU.

“Whether it’s the people in your major or staff and professors outside your major, everybody is always saying ‘Hi’ and asking you how your day is,” she says. “You don’t always get that at bigger colleges. That’s something I find is a plus being at a smaller college.”

Resumé Building Research

Another plus for Jordan is the opportunity to do research — collecting and interpreting data and other tasks — with psychology professor Gina Mireault on infant behavior, first on humor in babies and now a study of “curiosity and grit.” Jordan hopes to present their latest research with Gina at the Eastern Psychological Association’s annual conference in New York in 2019.

Jordan’s research experience may lead her in a career direction after she graduates. Her long-term goal is to attend medical school to become a neurologist, but before that, she may pursue work as a research assistant in a lab.

“Having that experience working with Dr. Mireault would give me a small foot in the door with research,” Jordan says. “It helps expose you to the type of work you might be doing in another lab.”

Mireault and associate professor of psychology Leslie Johnson are “definitely the dynamic duo,” Jordan says. “They have been amazing. They have so much knowledge to share. I’ve really learned a lot through them.”

She’s also learning by tutoring students in psychology classes, as she explains the material and discusses strategies for studying. “That has given me the opportunity to work with students so they can excel, which is preparing me for working with other people,” Jordan says. And “By helping other students understand, I’m helping myself understand more.”

Jordan appreciates that NVU provides ways for students to gain valuable hands-on experience through internships, research, attending conferences and meeting people in their field. “They provide as many networking opportunities as they can,” she says. “Everybody here is really trying to help you get to where you want to be.”